Health board sets special meeting for August
The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced its governing board will hold a special meeting on Aug. 1.
The meeting’s agenda isn’t yet available, but it would be the first opportunity for board members to reconsider medical marijuana regulations they passed July 10. Attorney General Mike Hunter said last week that the board likely overstepped its authority with some of the regulations.
Two groups of medical marijuana supporters have sued over the regulations, with one alleging the board violated the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act with secret discussions. The American Civil Liberties Union has also expressed concerns that some provisions, like requiring women to submit to a pregnancy test before getting a medical marijuana prescription and regulating marijuana advertising, could run afoul of the rights to equal protection under the law and free speech.
Other questions also remain around the rules. The executive director of the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy is under investigation after text messages appeared to show her offering the Health Department’s former general counsel a higher-paying job in exchange for including the pharmacist requirement. The general counsel didn’t include the rule, though the board decided to add it, but is facing a separate criminal probe relating to threats she emailed to herself.
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Rules that Hunter raised questions about included banning smokable forms of marijuana, requiring dispensaries to hire pharmacists and limiting the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive chemical, in medical marijuana products. The attorney general’s statements didn’t include any position on whether those rules are desirable, but said State Question 788 didn’t give the board the authority to make them.
Applications for medical marijuana licenses will be available starting Thursday, and the Health Department will start processing paperwork on Aug. 25.